The name of Quebec City mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonette appeared to be written on a weapon used in the New Zealand mosque attacks on Friday, in which at least 49 people were killed and dozens more were injured.
During Friday prayers, a man in his late 20s live-streamed the shootings at two mosques in downtown Christchurch: Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre. New Zealand Police have charged one man with murder in the shootings, and two others are in custody. The prime minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, called the suspect "an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist."
The suspected shooter, an Australian man named by local media as Brenton Terrant, apparently used social media and the internet to amplify the horrors of the attack, including by live streaming it on Facebook, posting to 8Chan, and publishing a lengthy manifesto riddled with trolling rhetoric.
Twitter posts from a now-suspended account tied to the alleged shooter show images of the weapons allegedly used in the attack. References to fascism, anti-Islam messages, and the names of well-known far-right extremists were scrawled across the rifle, magazines, and body armor.
Among those scrawlings, written on a magazine, is the phrase “For… Alexandre Bissonnette,” who opened fire on a Quebec City mosque in 2017, killing six Muslim men. Underneath Bissonette’s name on the magazine was Luca Traini, a far-right extremist who shot and injured six migrants in Italy in 2017. Among the shitposting and trolling that fills the alleged shooter's manifesto—including that Spryo the Dragon radicalized him to eco-fascism—these scrawlings may provide a glimpse into his ideology. The writing continuously references a notion that white people are losing their majority in western countries due to immigration and low white birth rates—the so-called “Great Replacement,” as the manifesto is titled.
It’s a talking point that’s been growing steadily for years now, not just within the far-right but in mainstream society—from YouTube pundits to some newspaper opinion pages—and it has even received tacit approval from some politicians.
Bissonnette was not mentioned in the alleged shooter’s irony-laden manifesto.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, like many other politicians, strongly condemned the attack, releasing a statement in which he said that “hate has no place anywhere.”
“Far too often, Muslims suffer unimaginable loss and pain in the places where they should feel safest. Canada remembers too well the sorrow we felt when a senseless attack on the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec in Ste-Foy claimed the lives of many innocent people gathered in prayer,” Trudeau said.
Canada's New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh tweeted, “My heart goes out to the families of the murdered and all those impacted by this act of terror. Islamophobia kills - and has no place anywhere in the world.”
Andrew Scheer, the leader of the country's Conservative Party, was criticized for his initial tweet which did not reference Muslims or Islam. Instead, he said “freedom has come under attack in New Zealand as peaceful worshippers are targeted in a despicable act of evil.” Fifteen hours later, Scheer made a second statement in which he explicitly mentioned mosques and Muslims, saying he wanted to "express both my deep sadness at the tragic loss of innocent life and my profound condemnation of this cowardly and hateful attack on the Muslim community."
Critics referenced Scheer’s recent speech in Ottawa to the United We Roll/Yellow Vests convoy—a group rife with virulent anti-Islamic rhetoric—where he spoke to the same crowd as Faith Goldy, one of Canada’s most recognizable far-right pundits who routinely posits similar ideas regarding birth rates and population replacement as was found in the shooter's manifesto.
The Conservative Party of Canada’s close relationship with pundits who regularly demonize Muslims has also been criticized. Former director of far-right outlet Rebel Media, Hamish Marshall, is Scheer’s campaign manager, and the Conservative Party's national campaign manager.
The Rebel has pushed a white genocide narrative, routinely demonizes the Muslim population, attempted to spread conspiracies regarding the Quebec Mosque shooting, and has worked as a jumping off point for several far-right figures who spread narratives similar to the one espoused in the manifesto. Marshall has said in the past that he was not involved in the Rebel’s editorial direction.
Canada’s Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in a tweet there was “no known nexus to Canada,” however, security has been beefed up at several mosques. Mohammed Labidi, the former president of the Quebec City mosque Bissonnette targeted, told the CBC that the news hit him “like a ton of bricks.”
"It brings up the pain that we experienced here,“ said Labidi. “It's sad that the world hasn't learned a lesson after what happened to the innocent people who died here."
This story has been updated to reflect the fact Scheer released a second statement after this story's initial publication.
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This article originally appeared on VICE CA.